Discover the splendours of the Plzeň Region and (not only) beer tourism
What an ideal vacation or trip looks like naturally varies according to our tastes. Some prefer peaceful woods, while others like to see all the sights. Gastro tourism, meaning travelling for good food and drink, is also becoming more and more popular. If you’d like to try a blend of all these, you can try beer tourism.
But Plzeň is not the only place to experience beer culture. The Plzeň Region offers specialized beer trails, which guide you through both local breweries and the surrounding nature and sights. We’d recommend for example the trail in Rokycany that leads from the U Stočesů beer garden to the Radouš brewery (Od Stočesů za pivem ušatého rytíře). It starts in the town of Rokycany, in the famous U Stočesů beer garden with a neighbouring micro-brewery, meaning you can see the copper brewing tank from your table. You can order the sharp Stočeská 11° malt, the amber, pleasantly caramel-flavoured beer, or a number of specials, which are generally made on demand and especially in the summer usually consist of a rich selection of light and fruit beers.
From there, you will follow the red tourist trail and reach Kozel castle, as well as the Lopata castle ruins. The trail is around 15 km long, meaning you will no doubt be happy to end your hike in Šťáhlavy, in the Radouš brewery beer garden. There you can enjoy the local “beer of the vindictive knight Radouš”, the ruler of the indomitable fortress of Radyně, who was infamous for his cruelty and his hideous looks. Legend says he had the ears of a donkey, the chin of a Billy goat and even the tusks of a boar. His children apparently inherited these traits, meaning Radouš would throw them off a cliff, alongside their mothers, so he would not have to bear the sight of them. Sir Radouš was truly strange, and the beers you can taste in the beer garden named after him are unique as well. The local brewer for example likes to make what he calls “intuitive beer”: a beer whose recipe changes based on the brewer’s mood. You can try to brew your own beer in the Radouš brewery if you make an appointment but try to do it in a good state of mind, so that your “intuitive beer” tastes good.
A beer experience inside out
Almost everybody knows that a moderate amount of beer can be good for you (especially for your bowel), but not many are aware of its other healing uses. Yet people have been using beer for washing their hair of making face masks since the Middle Ages. Beer has also been proven to have positive effects when applied externally, helping with psoriasis, cellulite, or acne. For a long time, no such thing as the beer spas we know today existed. The first ones started cropping up in the end of the 20th century. In Czechia, pioneers in the field founded a beer spa by the Chodovar brewery, which can be found in the Chodová Planá town on the border between the Plzeň and Karlovy Vary regions – only a pint’s throw to Mariánské Lázně, full of spas that don’t use beer, but thermal springs instead.
What is the principle of “beer spas” you ask? In case of the Chodovar brewery spa, they offer baths in dark bathing beer of their own making, mixed with the famous Ilsano mineral water. The baths contain living brewer’s years culture packed with vitamin B, which is good for your skin, hops draff, which has a peeling effect, and a mix of crushed herbs. The surface of the bath is covered with typical, caramel-coloured beer foam and the air is full of the smell of freshly brewed dark beer, which might make you want to taste the bathwater - but be warned that this “bath bomb” is definitely not drinkable. Fortunately, everybody relaxing in the beer bath also gets a glass of the Chodovar beer to quench their thirst. The beer not only tastes great, it also makes the bath work better. Apart from a beer bath, you can also try a hops bath (in mineral water mixed with hops) or a variety of massages, as well as a conventional wellness.
A similar comfortable experience can be had in the Purkmistr brewery beer spa, directly in Plzeň – Černice. Here you can have a bath in a tub made of fine larch wood, with a mix of Pilsner-type beer and other ingredients. In the bath, you can also have a drink from a wooden barrel of the Purkmistr pale lager and draw the beer yourself. After the bath you can enjoy a dry wrap in the relaxation room. Even if you are not a beer fan, you will not be left behind – the spa also offers peat, chocolate, and lavender baths. Truly restful.
Regardless of whether you love beer or prefer to avoid it, the Plzeň Region will give you all you need. You can enjoy the beautiful surroundings with a pint in your hand or without it; and if beer is not your thing, you can always be the sober friend or the responsible driver :-). And if you end your trip in a spa, even strict teetotallers might turn into fans of beer tourism.